WALLINGFORD — Residents recently heard a presentation by a consultant working on a study to improve the area along Route 5 near the new train station.
“I thought it was a very good discussion,” said Robert Newton, manager of civil engineering at BSC Group, the consultant hired to do the study. Newton gave a presentation during a public hearing Thursday at Town Hal.
The study is aimed at improving accessibility for pedestrians and bikers.
The first plan would add crosswalks, improve sidewalks and install concrete curb bump outs, which prevent motorists from driving too closely to cars parked on the side of the road. The second plan includes the same features as the first with the addition of a bike lane to each side of Route 5 and some of the adjacent roads. Both would cost around $4 million.
To accommodate bike lanes, on-street parking would be eliminated on North Colony Road (Route 5).
The town received a state grant of $175,000 for the study and contributed an additional $35,000. Newton said the report is expected to be presented to the Town Council in about a month.
Newton said the goal of the study is to increase interest in downtown for pedestrians and developers.
“... the whole goal of this is to enhance this corridor,” he said.
Adding bike lanes would require narrowing traffic lanes to 11 feet, which Newton said is in line with state guidelines for the speed and traffic capacity along North Colony. The prospected elicited objections from residents who said they already have difficulty navigating around backed up traffic and cars pulling in and out of driveways.
"...I think it's going to be a bigger mess than people are thinking," said Town Councilor Jason Zandri.
Emily Whitehouse, who takes the train into New Haven, said she believes dedicated bike lanes make motorists more comfortable with driving alongside bicyclists.
Some have also expressed interest in removing utility poles in favor of underground utilities in the area. The work would cost approximately $3.5 million.
"Part of our task was to investigate the utilities, and that is a very costly endeavor,” Newtown said. “It's not without merit at all and I'd say it could greatly enhance the corridor...”
Mayor William Dickinson Jr. said moving the lines underground has been investigated before and would require additional easements to be negotiated with property owners.